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The La Salle Falconer

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Hoops Across the Hemisphere: Australia’s Modbury High School Stops at La Salle as Part of USA Basketball Tour

Sofia Gonzalez
“Modbury High School does this trip [and] it’s the only one in Australia that does a whole USA trip,” recently graduated senior from Modbury High School Alexander Walsh said.

After a five year hiatus, the students of Modbury High School, located in Adelaide, Australia, have returned for their USA basketball tour. 

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, they arrived at La Salle, where they were greeted by their host families, and on Thursday, Dec. 7, all three teams that traveled — JV boys, varsity girls, and varsity boys — played an endowment game against La Salle. The JV girls lost to Modbury’s varsity team 28-49 while La Salle boys varsity and JV defeated Modbury, with scores of 78-38 for JV and 65-46 for varsity.

In the past, this has been a recurring event — most recently in 2018 — but it was postponed several times due to COVID-19, leaving the Modbury students unable to partake in the cultural experience. Because of this, excitement to return to the tradition, both within the La Salle community and among the Modbury basketball players, was high. 

Athletic Director Chris George took on the role of reintroducing the tour to the La Salle community. Because of the multiple cancellations of the trip, Mr. George has been working to organize their return for multiple years. “In their community it’s such a tradition, especially for kids in the basketball program. A bunch of kids didn’t get to go [because] they were on lockdown in Australia [and] couldn’t travel with COVID-19, so a bunch of kids just lost the opportunity to experience this,” Mr. George said. “[So] the kids are pretty stoked.”

Players from each of La Salle’s basketball teams — and a few non-basketball players — took on hosting Modbury players, coaches, teachers, or parents. As the concept of homestays has become less and less familiar, Mr. George is thrilled that La Salle students have the opportunity to be introduced to a culture different than their own, and believes that being the same age and possibly sharing a common interest in basketball or athletics in general yet living on completely opposite ends of the world provides La Salle students the opportunity to view life from a different lens.

“Hosting somebody allows you to examine yourself a little bit more, because you’re listening to them and watching them observe your surroundings that you’re totally in all the time and their experiencing it brand new,” Mr. George said.

For junior Lindsey Kapanoske, one of several girls varsity players who was hosting Modbury students, her favorite part about being a host is “hanging out with them and hearing the way they speak, because it’s so different,” she said. Being exposed to new terms and language has been a fun experience, and Kapanoske has enjoyed their mutual fascination with each other’s accents. “They also make fun of the way I speak, and I think that’s really funny,” she said.

Freshman Kiara Cook was also hosting two of the Modbury girls basketball players: junior Alecia Saldavia and senior Jade Pelton. Saldavia has been playing basketball since she was six years old and Pelton has been part of the basketball program since year eight — equivalent to eighth grade in America. For Saldavia, her brother attended the same American tour two times before her, which influenced her decision to come.

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  • Boys varsity team pictured from left to right: Back: Seth Clavell, Josh Taylor, Matt Hogarth, Romeo Mangava, Ethan Haren, Bryce Sanders, Head Coach Ashley Trueman, Front: Jayden Wallace, Carlos Toro, Daniel Wood.

  • Boys JV team pictured from left to right: Amerson Green, Daniel Wagener, Brock White, Alex Dinedios, Jaiden Lehman, Kade Monteleone, Michael van der Hoek, Riley Dodd, Cooper Seaton, Alexander Walsh, Joshua Louend-Robertson.

  • Girls varsity team pictured from left to right: Sydney Pocock, Molly Cox, Maddison Carter, Jade Pelton, Trinity West, Coach Gabriel Saldavia, Lauren Edwards, Abbey Hyde, Alecia Saldvaiva, Chiara Gilgoritsch.

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Being immersed in American school communities has been a significant change for the two. Most notably, they were shocked by the traction that school sports have in America. In Australia, the focus is more geared towards club sports as opposed to school sports, and the loud student sections and overall atmosphere of high school games does not really have a presence.

“Being around the school, like being around other American students and stuff like that — it’s really cool,” Saldavia said. “It’s a lot like the movies.”

In addition, both players noted a difference in the styles of play between the two countries, stating that American basketball was “a lot more physical than Australian basketball,” and that the referees in America were “really strict” in comparison. 

Prior to arriving in Oregon, the Modbury players stayed with host families in California and Washington, and they departed La Salle on Tuesday, Dec. 12 to continue their tour in Estacada. In addition to playing basketball against the schools in the local areas they traveled to, the students, coaches, and parents of Modbury High School have had opportunities to attend Disneyland, a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game, a tour of the Nike Employee Campus, and many other activities unique to the U.S.A.

Ashley Trueman, Modbury’s Sports Coordinator and boys varsity basketball head coach, has been working at the school for 32 years, and has been taking teams to American since 2010. Despite having a jam-packed schedule, Trueman is grateful that the students are provided with a variety of activities, and believes that it allows them to truly get a sense of American culture.

“It’s the whole experience,” Trueman said. “I mean the games are great, to experience that, but it’s the whole cultural thing; I love to sit back and watch as they meet new people.”

In addition, Trueman shares Mr. George’s belief in the importance of cultural immersion via host families, not only in regards to the students, but for himself and the rest of the coaches and chaperones. “Getting to stay with families is a real positive for me because I get to make friends and make new acquaintances,” Trueman said. “We’ve had lots of people that have got lots of positive benefits.” 

Though La Salle students have not been able to travel to Australia, the benefits of this trip are just as prevalent within the students here. “I think it provides our kids and our families a unique opportunity to evaluate their lives in the same way that we would if we were to travel,” Mr. George said. 

Overall, according to Mr. George, the re-establishment of this experience is of incredible value to the Lasallian community and he hopes that the tradition will continue to stand strong for the foreseeable future. “[We] try to keep kind of a relationship and a continuity going, so that way people are familiar with it and feel comfortable with it,” Mr. George said. 

Looking ahead, Mr. George would love to be able to provide La Salle students with the same opportunity to travel to Australia. “I think it would be really cool if we did that,” he said.

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    Ashley TruemanJan 3, 2024 at 10:27 pm

    We would love to host La Salle students at Modbury High School some day.
    Thank you so much for the experience you helped provide our students.